Josh Short catches up with longtime friend, relative of Illinois’ first COVID-19 death

Effina Jackson lost two aunts to COVID-19 within nine days in March 2020
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - One year ago this month, WNDU reported on the first COVID-19 death in Illinois.

It would be months later 16 Morning News Now co-anchor Josh Short realized he knew the victim’s family.

61-year-old Patricia Frieson died. She was Effina Jackson’s aunt.

“It really kind of blindsided the family,” Jackson told Josh during Your Morning Boost on the WNDU Facebook page. “We had heard about this coronavirus but it was something that we felt was more distanced, it was [in] another country. We heard instances of it creeping in but it really didn’t hit close to home until it really did hit close to home.”

What makes this story even more heartrending is Jackson would end up losing another aunt to coronavirus just nine days later.

Just over a year later, Jackson is turning her pain into purpose. She is involved and closely connected with the non-profit Progressive Manor, which seeks to eliminate homelessness and drug addiction in the form of transitional housing.

They have recently purchased a facility in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. In memory of her aunts and other Illinois COVID-19 victims, the organization wants to commemorate a room in this facility honoring those who died to coronavirus.

The goal of this 28,000 sq. ft. facility will be multi-purpose and the organization hopes to include a computer lab, game room, library, auditorium, fitness center, classrooms and so much more, serving underprivileged Auburn Gresham residents.

The organization is seeking donors, investors and partners to help drive the mission.

For more information on how you can help, we hope you can watch Josh and Effina’s Facebook Live conversation by clicking here.

You can also email Effina at

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